Supervisors Approve $100,000 for Compton Anti-Gang Program

Times Staff Writer

The county Board of Supervisors last week approved a $100,000 program to suppress gang activity in Compton.

The program is largely based on a community program in Paramount that has been credited with preventing grade-school children and teen-agers from joining gangs.

The anti-gang program was recommended by a county-appointed task force in December after Supervisor Deane Dana cited a "spiraling gang problem" in Compton.

Actually, police and city officials said Tuesday, gang-related violence has fallen dramatically in Compton in recent years, while drug-related attacks and sexual assaults have increased.

City Welcomes Program

But, city officials said, they nevertheless welcome the program as a way to fight future growth of local gangs.

"Traditionally in Compton the gang activity moves in cycles, with the kids getting very active for a while, growing up and moving on to something else," said Assistant Police Chief Gilbert Sandoval. "Then, a period of calm sets in and the activity is dormant.

"At the moment, we don't have much going on that is gang-related, but we hope to use this program to keep things that way," Sandoval said.

Assistant City Manager Howard Caldwell said that while some city officials were "shocked" to hear Dana describe the community as overrun with gangs, "we obviously feel the money can be put to good use."

Under the program, a county probation officer will be assigned to oversee students who are on probation, said county spokeswoman Ann Gavin.

Right on Campus

The officer "will be located right on campus, providing intensive supervision to gang-oriented students on probation," Gavin said. "This approach has been quite effective in reducing gang activity at other South-Central Los Angeles schools."

In addition, she said, the program will provide anti-gang education to schoolchildren at about the fifth-grade level and their parents, imitating Alternatives to Gang Membership, a program operated by the City of Paramount and the Paramount school district.

The program will educate children and parents about the dangers of gang violence and offer alternative activities for children, county officials said.

Parents will be educated to recognize signs of gang activity such as tattoos often worn by gang members. The program also will offer job placement for students as an alternative to joining gangs, and will identify and monitor key gang leaders, county officials said.

According to Gavin, the county will select an agency to run the program for the city.

Neighborhood Meetings

Although many details of the program still must be worked out, county officials said the selected agency probably will hold neighborhood education meetings and provide an anti-gang curriculum to young children, as is done in Paramount.

Sandoval said that, in addition to the new anti-gang program, Compton officials recently created a community crime-prevention program to combat a rash of drug-related violence, sexual assaults and robberies.

He said there have been four shooting deaths in the community in the past week, though none are known to be gang-related.

The first crime-prevention seminar, open to the public, will be held in Compton on March 23, he said.

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